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10 Buildings That Changed America

"10 Buildings That Changed America," a new PBS special about ten influential American buildings that changed the way we live, work, and play, premieres May 2013. Written and produced by Dan Protess and hosted by Geoffrey Baer, the program was shot on location from Massachusetts to Los Angeles, and features rare archival images, distinctive animation, and interviews with some of the nation’s most insightful historians and architects, including Frank Gehry and Robert Venturi.

Host Geoffrey Baer at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia. Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the capitol marked the beginning of the American tradition of modeling government buildings on Roman and Greek temples.

Host Geoffrey Baer at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia. Designed by Thomas Jefferson, the capitol marked the beginning of the American tradition of modeling government buildings on Roman and Greek temples.

Credit: Courtesy of PBS

Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Building was not the first skyscraper, but it gave the modern, steel-frame skyscraper its form. Historian Tim Samuelson said it “taught the skyscraper to soar.”

Louis Sullivan’s Wainwright Building was not the first skyscraper, but it gave the modern, steel-frame skyscraper its form. Historian Tim Samuelson said it “taught the skyscraper to soar.”

Credit: Courtesy of WTTW Chicago

Seagram Building: Mies van der Rohe’s tower on Park Avenue was the model for modernist skyscrapers built across the country in the mid-20th century: a dark glass box, set back on an open plaza.

Seagram Building: Mies van der Rohe’s tower on Park Avenue was the model for modernist skyscrapers built across the country in the mid-20th century: a dark glass box, set back on an open plaza.

Credit: Courtesy of WTTW Chicago

Created by architect H.H. Richardson, Trinity Church was the first example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, which was later used in churches, city halls and county courthouses across America.

Created by architect H.H. Richardson, Trinity Church was the first example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, which was later used in churches, city halls and county courthouses across America.

Credit: Courtesy of WTTW Chicago

Highland Park Ford Plant: The first home of Henry Ford’s revolutionary moving assembly line, Albert Kahn’s “daylight factory” design revolutionized industrial architecture.

Highland Park Ford Plant: The first home of Henry Ford’s revolutionary moving assembly line, Albert Kahn’s “daylight factory” design revolutionized industrial architecture.

Credit: Courtesy of WTTW Chicago

Host Geoffrey Baer at Philadelphia’s Vanna Venturi House, considered by many to be the first “postmodern” building.

Host Geoffrey Baer at Philadelphia’s Vanna Venturi House, considered by many to be the first “postmodern” building.

Credit: Courtesy of PBS

Host Geoffrey Baer at Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style Robie House in Chicago.

Host Geoffrey Baer at Frank Lloyd Wright’s prairie style Robie House in Chicago.

Credit: Courtesy of PBS

America’s first fully enclosed, indoor regional shopping mall, Southdale established the formula that all indoor malls followed for decades. Its architect, Victor Gruen, was a socialist who ironically thought shopping malls would cure suburban sprawl.

America’s first fully enclosed, indoor regional shopping mall, Southdale established the formula that all indoor malls followed for decades. Its architect, Victor Gruen, was a socialist who ironically thought shopping malls would cure suburban sprawl.

Credit: Courtesy of WTTW Chicago

Host Geoffrey Baer at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Frank Gehry’s swooping stainless steel design was a radical departure from the traditional idea of a concert hall.

Host Geoffrey Baer at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Frank Gehry’s swooping stainless steel design was a radical departure from the traditional idea of a concert hall.

Credit: Courtesy of PBS

Host Geoffrey Baer at Dulles Airport, in front of the terminal designed by Eero Saarinen.

Host Geoffrey Baer at Dulles Airport, in front of the terminal designed by Eero Saarinen.

Credit: Courtesy of PBS

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